Graft hotline not delivering

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GAYE DAVIS

EIGHT years after it was set up, the government’s national anti-corruption hotline has managed to claw back only R110 million in civil servants’ ill-gotten gains.

Fewer than 1 500 officials have had action taken against them – and as many as two-thirds of the corruption cases referred to national and provincial departments for investigation since 2004 are still outstanding – because the referrals are simply ignored.

In its latest review of the hotline it was put in charge of managing in 2004, the Public Service Commission (PSC) complains about the same problems it identified in 2008. It says departments generally do not probe the cases referred to them, and puts this down to a lack of investigative capacity or specialised units.

This comes against a backdrop of billions of rand in public funds being lost every year due to corruption, incompetence and negligence in the public service.

Ex-Special Investigating Unit head Willie Hofmeyr said last year that 20 percent – between R25 billion and R30bn – of the government’s procurement budget alone was siphoned off each year through officials’ fingers in the till, providers overcharging for goods, and services or officials failing to properly monitor how money was being spent.

The PSC’s third biennial report measuring the hotline’s effectiveness covers its work from its inception in September 2004 until the end of August 2010.

“The PSC has come to realise that investigators do not receive adequate resources from their respective departments to conduct full-scale investigations… Furthermore, investigators often do not have the requisite knowledge or skills to deal with complex cases of alleged corruption,” the report says.

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